Attorney General Eric Holder would like people to believe that homeschooling is not a fundamental right; according to him at least, it is a privilege. That is simply not the case. Homeschooling is currently legal in all fifty states; however, with the Supreme Court refusing to hear the Romeike case, organizations like the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) fear that this particular right could be taken away on a whim. The Romeike’s family of eight came from Germany with the hopes of homeschooling their six children. Germany prohibits homeschooling and had the family stayed they would have lost their children. So they came to the United States seeking asylum for religious reasons, and in 2010 they were granted asylum. Two years later, Attorney General Eric Holder challenged that and their asylum was revoked.
Going before the Supreme Court was a last-ditch effort to make sure they weren’t deported. Holder stated in his Justice Department Brief that Germany’s society was “pluralistic” and he went on to say that tolerance was taught to children of all backgrounds, something that Holder deemed necessary in order for children to have the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizens. It was these reasons that Holder did not feel the Romeike’s deserved asylum. It would seem like Holder does not believe that tolerance is taught in home school families, and that home school families are not able to function in society.
Holder is wrong; home school students have not only some of the highest test scores but they are also courted by major universities. Home school children are also taught tolerance and how to interact with people of all ages, not just their peer groups. Mike Farris of HSLDA fears that this latest move by the Obama administration and the Holder Justice department could strike a blow to homeschooling, and his fears may be justified.
When Holder’s Justice Department sided with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in 2012 and accordingly stated that “there is no fundamental right to determine the education of one’s children” it set a terrifying precedent for anyone who values homeschooling. Right now in America, families have the right to choose whether they will home school, send their children to public school, or send them to private school. This however may not always be the case, especially if opponents to homeschooling get their way.
Currently in the United States while homeschooling is legal in all fifty states the rules vary from one state to another, mainly as to what kind of reporting is necessary, and what type of educational background the main educator has to have. The HSLDA exists primarily to help families who face legal difficulties when they wish to home school, and they have been supporting the Romeike family since 2008 when the family first left Germany.
The Romeikes are not the only ones who have faced legal battles recently because of homeschooling. The Tutt family in Texas is another example of how America’s legal system is running over home school families and their rights. The Tutts, Christina and Trevor, had their children forcibly removed from their home on November 21, 2013, in spite of no evidence of abuse or neglect by the family. Judge Gaciela Olvera of the 256th District Court issued the removal order ex-parte, meaning the parents were not notified nor were they present.
In the Tutts case, they have biological children and adopted children. When their four-year-old wandered off last September, one of their other children stayed with the four-year old while others went to get help. While Dad was looking for the child a police officer found him and returned the four-year-old and it is presumed his sibling back to the home. It was at this point that Child Protective Services (CPS) was called out. Upon hearing that Mrs. Tutt chose to stay home with the children and home school, CPS remarked that she had to be insane and immediately required Mrs. Tutt to undergo a psychological evaluation. The CPS worker’s attitude that only someone with mental instability would want to be with their children should be alarming.
Mrs. Tutt was found to be in good physical and mental condition by her doctors, but the judge still ordered the children taken away. The only thing at this point that anyone can find the Tutts have done wrong is homeschooling their children, rather than sending them off to public or private school. While some of the Tutt children have been returned, there are still a couple of the children that remain in state custody, and the state has said that the remaining children, if returned, will have to attend public school. Like Holder, it seems the state of Texas does not believe that homeschooling is a fundamental right.
If homeschooling is determined to be a privilege, as opposed to a right, the Justice Department can easily make it impossible for families to home school. Something that opponents would like to see happen. There are a lot of myths about homeschooling out there; these myths are what drove the Romeikes out of Germany, and they are the same thing that will keep people like Mike Farris fighting. Myths like home school families lack tolerance for others, that they are socially inept, or that they do not receive a good education.
A person can be a well-rounded citizen and be homeschooled. They learn tolerance and decency. Homeschool families choose that path for many different reasons. Not all home school families are religious, and they certainly do not fit into one particular mold. If America is to stay great, then homeschooling should be an option. Holder’s desire to see the fundamental right to home school taken away should only make Americans fight harder to see it stay.
Opinion By Rachel Woodruff